Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.

12/15/2009

More Tests!?

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dog which is in the evening time or 9:14 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a New Moon

Right, well, I suppose I owe my regular and faithful readers an update.

First off, the doctors tell me that I’m not going to die from cancer before I pay my bill.  No, seriously, the tests all came back clear.  Now, there was some more to this one, if you recall, than just the cancer check.  They noticed some time ago that I have an irregularity of some kind on or around my adrenal gland.  So, there was an extra visit Monday to have a chat with an endocrinologist about what that all meant, if anything.

As far as we can tell, the blood work is all pretty normal and, since the alleged abnormality was pretty well unchanged for the past two years, the verdict is that it’s not a problem at all.  But, since they like be thourough, and I still have pretty good insurance that keeps paying out, I’ve got one more test to go through.  It seems they want to test whether or not my adrenal gland is functioning correctly.  To do that, they want me to take a pill around midnight that will flood my system with artificial cortisone.  That should keep my adrenal gland from making the naturally occurring amount over night.  Then, the next morning, I have to get to a testing center between seven and eight so they can take my blood and test the levels.  Now, the nice doctor told me that this was mainly a double-check and almost a formality, but, when it comes to cancer, and my life, you just can’t be too careful.

In fact, the only really bad news I got this time around is that I was wrong about how often I’m going to be scanned over the next three years or so.  See, I thought I was about to get on the annual scan plan, but apparently that was wishful thinking.  For at least the next three years, I’m going to have to get CT scans every six months.  I have to tell you, that really screws up my plans both financially and personally when it comes to spending my vacation time.  And, frankly, I was hoping to get a few less radioactive enemas!

Of course, all things considered, these are some pretty high-class, champagne problems.  I mean, I’ve got a job, so I can pay for all these tests, or at least the parts that insurance doesn’t cover.  And, frankly, I have mostly everything I need in the way of neccessities, like clothing, shelter and the like.  I even have enough disposable income to run this site, and several others, for the fun of it.  Not to mention the other fun toys I have, like the laptop I’m typing this on and my camera and my iPhone and other totally extraneous things that many people I grew up with think of as a bare minimum standard of living.  But, then, I was always the poor kid in a rich neighborhood who always sort of wondered at the opulence that so many of my peers seemed to enjoy.
Most importantly, of course, I’m alive.

Yeah, let’s stop here for a moment, in the middle of the most commercial season of the year and consider that for a second.  People say that they’re “lucky to be alive” or that they’re thankful “just to be alive and healthy”, but I wonder how many really get what it means to almost not have that?
You see, years before I caught a mild case of near-fatal lymphoma, one of my favorite musicians died from cancer.  As he was slowly being eaten away by that hideous disease, he was frantically trying to record one last CD.  A legacy for his fans and his family.  Along the way, he did an interview with David Letterman who asked him what this process had taught him.  That artist, Warren Zevon, replied, “I know just how much to enjoy every sandwich”.

So, here’s what I hope you take away from my blog and my ranty little bouts with medical testing; enjoy every sandwich, because you never know which one will be your last.


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned."
   --Peter Marshall

11/17/2008

Cancer’s Lessons

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:50 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Through a circuitous route, I stumbled across an article by Tony Snow, a speech writer and media consultant for President George H. W. Bush.

Mr. Snow died on July 12, 2008, after fighting cancer, twice. Before he passed away, however, he wrote this article for Christianity Today, titled Cancer’s Unexpected Blessings. Go, read the article, then, if you can stomach some more, come back and I’ll share with you some of my thoughts on slow-dancing with death for the better part of a year.

We humans spend a lot of time worrying about death. Perhaps not on an individual basis, but in the aggregate, we spend a lot of time trying to avoid death, to hide from it, to deny it. When I was diagnosed with cancer almost two years ago, I could no longer hide from it or feel myself into thinking that it was a long way off. It could be tomorrow, next week, months from now, or years, but I’m going to die. In fact, we all are, sooner or later. I’ve heard it said that death is the one thing we all have in common. None of use make it out of here alive.
So, what does that mean? On a practical level, what does it mean to know that I’m going to die? It means that every moment is borrowed time. Every experience, no matter how painful or uncomfortable, is an opportunity to learn something, about myself, about my world or about my God. Frankly, it’s hard to put into words. I think that only someone who’s been close to death really gets it deep down in the bones where words don’t quite reach. Because, you see, when I was there, when I was right close to taking my last breath, I was convinced that it wasn’t quite time yet. Only later, when I’d had a chance to think about it did I truly understand how close I’d come to being gone. When I was there, when the Angel of Death had me in that cold, bony bear-hug, it was the farthest thing from my mind. Then, all I could think about was living. All I could think about was seeing people I missed, doing things that I wanted to do. Maybe trying to correct a few of the mistakes I’d made along the way and, hopefully, God willing, have time enough to take another shot at some of those things and do ’em right this time around.
Naturally, when I was first diagnosed, I was quite upset. I felt cheated, like God owed me so many more years of life and taking that away from me was unfair. That, however, didn’t last nearly as long as I would have thought.

In another article on MSN, I read “Learning you have cancer and going through treatment can dramatically affect a person’s life. Cancer can be isolating, and depression affects up to 38 percent of cancer patients.” My thought when I read that was, “No shit”. Who can understand something like this? How can you explain it? A fellow cancer survivor, and a good friend of mine, talked about going to the doctor after getting diagnosed to “…see how badly my body had betrayed me.” And, that, as much as anything, sums up that weird feeling of loss and surprise and gut-checking impact when the diagnosis is made, then confirmed. It knocks you off your emotional feet, stalls your motivational momentum, and kicks you in your spiritual nut-sack. Suddenly, every uncomfortable moment becomes more precious than any commodity you’ve ever owned. You find yourself suddenly willing to trade any possession, no matter how precious, for a just a few more minutes in the embrace of an old friend, or the bed of an old lover. Some, like me, may find themselves longing to know the mind of God, but without the big rush to look Him in the eye to ask the questions.
It’s funny, when I think of it now, how many times I’ve contemplated killing myself over the years. Well, it’s funny in light of how many radioactive enemas I’ve had, and how much personal dignity I’ve traded, all in the effort to squeeze a few more minutes out of this drab, pre-processed world of ours. Not too many years before my diagnosis, I was at one of those points. It’d been a rough year, or two or three, and I thought I was done, finally. But, God had a few lessons left to teach me, a few things for me, perhaps, to teach someone else, so I’m still here, flailing about for words to express the unexpressible.

In the end, what cancer taught me was something I thought I’d learned from that old poet, Warren Zevon, several years before, when he was dying of cancer. It was a quote, from his last live TV appearance on the David Letterman Show that appeared on the VH1 retrospective, which I watched again while I wrote the last bit of this post. After long last, I finally understand just how much to enjoy every sandwich.


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Millions long for immortality who don't know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon."
   --Susan Ertz

4/25/2008

Living off a USB drive

Filed under: Apple,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Fun Work,Geek Work,Life, the Universe, and Everything,MicroSoft,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:25 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

There’s something about this that appeals to me.

When I was fresh out of college, I won a trip to Long Beach with a bunch of amenities. A buddy of mine and I went, since we were both single, and enjoyed ourselves, in spite of the worst rainy season the greater L.A. area has seen in more than 20 years. I mean, roads would shut down after we’d use them, forcing us to find another way back to the hotel and I think we only two days of sun. The day we arrived and the day we left.
But, what I remember most was a t-shirt I saw at a tourist shop on Catalina. It was a Parrothead shirt that had the lyric “I used to rule my world from a payphone” on the back, with a nice, relaxing picture of a hammock between two palm trees. The idea of being so unattached, free and mobile really appealed to me, but, alas, it’s a life I’ve never known.

Now, what does that have to do with a USB drive? Well, thanks to Lifehacker, more than you’d think. Have you ever thought about how nice it might be to travel with all your information and favorite applications, but leave your laptop behind? Yep, free and easy living. All you need is a good-sized USB thumb drive and three articles: Top 10 USB Thumb Drive Tricks , Carry Your Life On A Thumb Drive and Tiny USB Office (via LifeHacker). That’s it. Your key to carrying your life in your pocket. Well, your digital life, at any rate.

And, before you write this off, I know a guy who did just what they describe. He loaded everything that mattered to him on a thumb drive and had no computer at all for more than a year. Of course, now, he has a MacBook, so you can take that with a grain of salt. But, also, according to ZDNet, Microsoft is coming out with a product to help you do all this via their suite of programs and operating systems called “StartKey“. You know when Microsoft gets behind an idea, you’ll see it implemented, one way or another.
So, do you all think you could do it? Could you make the switch?

3/7/2004

Why?

Filed under: Life, the Universe, and Everything,One Year Manual,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 9:48 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Welcome to the long, dark night of my soul.

Okay, maybe that’s an exageration, but I can honestly say that I’m less than pleased with my life. And, invariably, when that happens it’s due to a lack of spirituality in my life. Honestly, I try to give myself credit for “improvement” whatever that means, but I’m just so results oriented that I have a hard time convinceing myself that anything less than perfection is “okay”. Sometimes, it feels like all the years of pronouncing tech Band-Aids “good enough” builds up, like a massive, obessive-compulsive static charge until I just implode. I know the solution is to “let go and let God”, or, as my Grandmother used to say, “Thy will be done, Lord. Not my will, but Thy will be done”. But, it’s so hard for me to do that.

Well, as someone said once, progress, not perfection…
I’ve been working at the spiritual program outlined in The One Year Manual, but it hasn’t been going well. Most days, I manage to pray three of the four times Regardie suggests, but I almost never get enough peace and quiet to work on the relaxation and “body awareness” exercises. Or, if I do get the quiet, I fall asleep! I haven’t even read this month’s exercise yet. I’m almost afraid to, since I’m sure it builds on the exercises that I haven’t been doing. I don’t know, maybe I tried to do too much too quickly. Maybe I should just be happy with the fact that I pray more often in a day than I used to pray in a week. Maybe.
I just can’t help thinking that God is trying to tell me something. And, not something I want to hear. But, then, when I think about that, I shock myself at my own arrogance. The hubris to think that God has a special message for me! On the other hand, so many people seem to think that he has a special message for everyone… Hell, I don’t know. All I know is that I’m not happy, but I don’t know how to let go of that. I don’t even have anything in particular to be unhappy about!

Anyway, I’m sure I’ll get over it eventually, so, just to keep things happy, here’s a prayer a friend of mine suggested to me…

The Peace Prayer of Saint Francis

“O Lord, make me an instrument of Thy Peace!
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is discord, harmony.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sorrow, joy.

Oh Divine Master, grant that I may not
so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.”


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